By Nigel Boys
Rupert Murdoch, head of News UK which owns The Sun, who is reportedly well known for his anti-Monarchy stances, went too far this week with headlines calling Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Princess Margaret, “Their Royal Heilnesses.”
Saturday’s front page headlines in The Sun enraged the fury of the British public and the Royal family, with the former taking to Twitter, demanding that the Australian be banned from the U.K. and saying the publication had “sunk to a new low.”
The picture on the front page of The Sun, along with a 17-second film released online, shows the Queen performing a Nazi salute when she was a young girl of 7 in 1933. She is accompanied by her sister, 3-year-old Princess Margaret, the Countess of Snowdon, who are encouraged by Edward VIII to learn how to do the salute which became a symbol for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.
The Guardian newspaper reported in 2014 that one of Murdoch’s insiders said “He admires the Queen, but in his heart, he’s a Republican, he’d like to be left wing.”
Many believe that the Queen should not be held responsible for her actions as a young girl. Queen Elizabeth II, the Head of the Commonwealth and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, whose full name is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, was in the gardens at Balmoral, when the vintage footage was shot of her and her family.
Although Edward VIII was known to have harbored Nazi sympathies, the grainy black-and-white photograph was taken just as Hitler was rising to power in Germany and seven years before the outbreak of the Second World War, reports the Daily Mail.
The news outlet points out that the Queen, at the age of seven, is unlikely to have understood the implications of her actions and knew nothing about the atrocities the Third Reich would inflict upon Europe. The Queen Mother is also seen proudly saluting alongside Princess Margaret.
In an interview with Sky News, Royal commentator and the Queen’s former press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, said he would be interested to find out how the footage, which was part of the monarch’s private archives, was made public. “I would like to think it was released inadvertently as a bit of harmless 1933 footage without anybody really knowing what was on it.”
While the Palace is expected to look into the matter to find out if a crime has been committed in the leaking of the film, The Sun defended its right to use the footage. The photographs “provide a fascinating insight in the warped prejudices of Edward VIII and his friends in that bleak, paranoid, tumultuous decade,” it stated.
The footage casts “important new light on the Royal Family’s attitudes towards Germany in the 1930s – and the influence of Nazi-loving Edward,” continued The Sun.
“It is a historical document that really sheds some insight in to the behavior of Edward VIII,” The Sun’s managing editor, Stig Abell, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. He added that the footage was legally obtained by the newspaper and their publication of the film was “not a criticism of the Queen or the Queen Mum.”
While recognizing the fact that Buckingham Palace may not be happy about the release of the footage, Abell pointed out that journalists and the media’s role is to bring to light things which happened.
Abell further wrote: What we have done is just brought to light an historical document and we have sought to present it in a contextual fashion around Edward VIII and have made the point, relatively clearly I hope, that we recognize, of course, that the Queen and the Queen Mum went on to become heroes of the Second World War and there are no aspersions being cast upon them by the Sun.”
Murdoch reportedly described the British Royal family as “irrelevant” and urged his homeland of Australia, as a staunch Republican, that they should abandon the monarchy, according to the Mail.
“They are all having a laugh, there are lots of smiles, so, it’s all a big joke,” respected military historian James Holland told The Sun. “I don’t think there was a child in Britain in the 1930s or 40s who has not performed a mock Nazi salute as a bit of a lark. It just shows the Royal Family are as human as the next man.”